Discover resources available to our donor families for honoring loved ones who shared the gift of life.


How the national organ transplant list works


Every nine minutes, someone is added to the national organ waiting list. Through the generosity of 19,217 organ donors, there were 38,761 transplants between January and November of 2023.  


In the past, donor organs were matched first with local candidates, then regional, then national. As organ preservation technology has improved, it has become possible to transport organs across longer distances, making geography less important in this lifesaving equation. Organs are matched with candidates based on many factors, including blood type, body size, degree of illness in the candidate and the candidate’s distance from the donor hospital. 

Patients needing an organ transplant are evaluated by a transplant center for suitability. If the transplant center accepts a patient as a transplant candidate, their clinical information goes into the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) database. 

When a donor becomes available, Donor Network of Arizona (DNA) staff enter the donor information into the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) computer system, and that system compares donor characteristics to the database of waiting transplant candidates. The system then generates a unique list of potential candidates based upon these factors. The DNA coordinator then notifies the transplant centers when their candidates are eligible to receive an organ based on the available donations.   


Every registered donor offers hope to those on the waiting list, and DNA remains committed to saving lives. By advocating for more people to register as donors, we aim to create a community where organ transplants are embraced, and donors are celebrated as heroes. Through education, we strive to increase organ and tissue donor registrations, which helps save and heal more lives and get people off the waiting list. 


The main way to shorten the waiting list is to increase donor registrations. You can help by making the decision to register as an organ donor today. This decision has the potential to save eight and heal up to 75 more lives!  

Register today at 

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